Your identity and personal information are valuable so it's important to protect them.
Criminals can use your personal details to open bank accounts and get credit cards, passports and driving licences in your name.
This is known as identity crime.
Identity theft and identity fraud are two types of identity crime.
Identity theft is when someone gains enough information about an identity (e.g, name, date of birth, address) to commit identity fraud. It's the misappropriation of the identify of another person without their knowledge or consent.
Identity fraud occurs when a stolen identity is used to gain goods or services by deception e.g, open a bank account, gain benefits or apply for credit cards.
Criminals commit identity theft by stealing personal information, usually from documents they find in the rubbish.
A stolen identity can result in identity fraud which can affect your personal finances and chances of getting a loan, credit card or mortgage.
Identity Theft, a website put together by a number of public and private sector bodies, has lots of tips to help keep your personal information safe, but here are a few to get you started:
Bank and credit cards
- If any of your cards are lost or stolen, cancel them straight away and never give card details or personal information over the phone or on the internet when other people can see or hear.
- Don't carry cards unnecessarily. If you don't need them, leave them in a safe place.
- If your driving licence is lost or stolen, contact the issuing organisation straight away.
- Get in the habit of checking your bank statements. If you spot any transactions you didn't expect, contact the company concerned.
- Destroy unwanted documents using a shredder. Don't throw away bills, bank statements, receipts or unwanted post in your name without shredding it first.
- Keep personal information somewhere safe like a lockable drawer or cupboard.
Passwords and PINs
Keep passwords safe and don't store them anywhere that means they may be stolen such as your purse or on your mobile phone.
- Try not to use the same password for more than one account.
- Never give personal or account details to anyone who contacts you unexpectedly even if they claim to be from your bank or the police. Take a phone number and call them back to make sure they are genuine. Remember a bank will never ask for your PIN or your whole password.
- If you move home, ask Royal Mail to redirect your post to your new address.
- If you think your post is going missing or being stolen, report it to Royal Mail on 0845 740 740.
- Be careful if you live in a property where other people could have access to your post. If you are having new bank cards delivered you may want to make arrangements to collect them at the bank rather than having them delivered.
Fraud is a crime so, if you think you’ve experienced it, we would encourage you to report it.
Many fraud offences must now be reported direct to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud-reporting centre run by the National Fraud Authority.
You'll find more information on our reporting fraud page.